The contribution of older people to society: evaluation of participatory research methodology employed in studies in Ghana and South Africa

  • Amanda Heslop HelpAge International, London
  • Robert Agyarko World Health Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Ebenezer Adjetey-Sorsey HelpAge Ghana, Accra
  • Thembi Mapetla HelpAge South Africa, Johannesburg


Participatory research methodology offers a powerful tool for policy-oriented research on ageing because of its emphasis on evidence-based views of older people and recognition of inequalities in older peoples access to resources and services. Research undertaken by HelpAge International and partners in Ghana and South Africa in 1998/99 adapted and employed the methodology to study livelihood strategies and contributions of older people, and to bring these findings to bear in policy debate within the two countries. The studies found that although the significant contributions of older people are largely ignored, they constitute a vital element of their livelihood strategies, since the ability to contribute can enhance their ability to access social support and increase social inclusion. While the findings have been utilised to support policy discussion, the research process has assisted in the identification of linkages that need to be strengthened for effective policy development in each country.


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